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"But What If The Ball Had Missed The Stick?"

In Golf World's Newsmakers issue Ryan Herrington tackles the tricky question of what would have happened had Tiger's third shot into the 15th hole on Masters Friday had not hit the flagstick.

Herrington pulls if off beautifully and most fun of all is not how he views it impacting the Masters, but the rest of the year where a kinder, happier, less-stressed Woods performs differently.

All hypothetical but all in good fun. Well, unless you're Tiger.

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Reader Comments (26)

would have taken one bounce and gone just over the green. obvious from the replays, his second pitched at least 10 feet short of where his first would have pitched
12.18.2013 | Unregistered Commenterbruce
We got a much better year than Ryan Herrington imagines.
12.18.2013 | Unregistered CommenterChris Campbell
That's fun and nicely done. I still really like having Scott, Rose, and Mickelson as Major winners this year. Dufner's a good sort too.

It's funny that in the two big individual sports we have Woods's pursuit of Nicklaus and Nadal's pursuit of Federer at the same time. The numbers are similar, they are both 4 behind, but Nadal's trajectory is entirely different. At the beginning of June 2005 Woods had 9 Majors and Nadal had 0 Slams. Just over a month later it was Woods 10: Nadal 1 and Nicklaus's 18 looked vulnerable. Now it's Woods 14: Nadal 13 - and I think that most people would put their money on Nadal ahead of Woods.
12.18.2013 | Unregistered Commenterbs
If you haven't read the column, do yourself a favor and read it now. It's a prize.
12.18.2013 | Unregistered Commenter3foot1
Man, it's really the off-season, isn't it...? <yawn>
12.18.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRLL
It was a funny column, but I don't agree that a Masters W by Tiger translates into winning at Muirfield. His game is erratic, and another win would not change that IMHO.
12.18.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrianS
What a load of pap. All these idiots - how about you give EVERY guy in the tournament one shot back.

How stupid is this train of thought?

Tiger gets one shot back, that's called a mulligan, you TV and magazine dopes. Real golf counts every stroke. It wasn't bad luck that put Tiger in the water, it was Tiger's shot that put him in the water. Luck has nothing to do with it. Not to mention, how about getting some announcers who aren't such bloody cheerleaders for one guy?

If Greg Norman said he'd have won ten majors if you'd given him his worst shot back in a given tournament, he'd be laughed off the stage.

No, but Tiger was ROBBED! How many other times has he lost because fate so cruelly intervened.

Oh, and the other three majors, and the Giggle-fest that Zach stole from him?

Also bad luck - other people got out of bed and played, and shot a lower score.

Damn that luck.
12.18.2013 | Unregistered Commenterwowser
btw, Phil's break on #4 in 2012 was way worse than Tiger's - he was in the final group, his bounce off the railing was totally random, and he makes a triple on the hole - without any penalty strokes.
12.18.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrianS
such bullshit
12.18.2013 | Unregistered Commenterchicago pt
@BrianS Phil hit the railing of the stands - he hit a bad shot & got a bad break. Tiger hit the flagstick. Hitting a good shot and getting a bad break, isn't the same thing as hitting a bad shot and getting a bad break.
12.18.2013 | Unregistered Commenterelf
Didn't like the piece last week, still don't. I suspect Ryan didn't like much of what actually happened.
12.18.2013 | Unregistered CommenterD. maculata
@Brian S: To second elf, Tiger was aiming for the flagstick. Phil wasn't aiming for the railing. 'Nuff said.

@wowser: If Greg Norman said that, he'd be factually accurate for once. Most knowledgable golf fans would also agree.

And about the subject matter in the article: I've watched every round of every major since the 1985 British Open, and never, ever, have I seen someone in the lead hit the flagstick and have the ball bounce into water. The only player I have seen with a major lead hit the flagstick and bounce far away was Tiger himself on the 6th hole in the final round at S:t Andrews in ´05 (he hit the pin on the fly and it bounced 20 yards away to the front of the green), but he went on to win anyway. To say luck had nothing to do with it is just being...I don't know what. Fill it in yourself.
12.18.2013 | Unregistered CommenterHawkeye
I know what you guys are saying and don't disagree that Phil's shot was certainly worse. But Tiger should have gotten a bogey on the hole, which given that it was Friday, should not have been a tourney deciding issue for him. It was the penalty that really put Tiger behind the 8 ball for the weekend. Phil lost the Masters on that shot.
12.18.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrianS
Hey Hawk-eye, if you want to use that word to feel better about, go ahead. It was bad luck. So, let's give Tiger the win with an asterisk. And in the future, let's just give him the win before the first tee-off and make the excuses up as we go along?

Sean Foley has cost Tiger many more majors than a churlish flag stick. Elephant in the room.
12.18.2013 | Unregistered Commenterwowser
Whoa there, wowser, I never said anything about him being a certain winner had he not hit the flagstick - he stunk it up on the weekend after leading both the US Open and PGA in ´12. But Sean Foley costing Tiger majors? Sure, because he was really striping it in 2010 before hooking up with Foley... No, being caught with his pants down in ´09 is what's costing him majors, and the reason he'll never win another.
12.18.2013 | Unregistered CommenterHawkeye
If "if's and but's were candy and nuts, it would be Christmas year 'round" Who cares "what may have happened?".

Merry Christmas!
+1, Pro.
And Happy New Year!
12.18.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRLL
Another "What-if" piece of fiction. IF IF IF...heck..."IF your aunt has testicles, then she'd be your uncle" as a wise man once said. Must be a real slow off-week for this kind of fluff to get published.

Furyk winning the PGA? Sorry, not in my "What-If" scenario. The PGA of America actually implemented a 25sec shotclock along with a continual putting local rule that week with two bad times equaling an early exit and all the Daily Queen one can eat.
12.18.2013 | Unregistered Commenterjohnnnycz
I think some of you guys are missing the point entirely. This is meant to be a humorous piece, not a manifesto on bad luck. Lighten up it's the season.
12.18.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSari
@Sari, I totally agree with you. We should just take these articles lightheartedly.
12.18.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJames
I have been a fan of every one of the 2014 major winners for years.

If that flag stick at the Masters had anything to do with the destiny of the four eventual major winners, then God bless that flag stick.
12.18.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAbu Dhabi Golfer
@Sari: Light Hearted? Like implying Speith missed the the Presidents Cup and Tingling MC'ing at Augusta then packing it in for the summer all because of a ball missing the pin....which IMO is one of the unluckiest breaks ever. The part about Eldrick WD'ing voluntarily IS pretty funny, fantastic and light-hearted in a ridiculous kind of way I suppose.

It's a pointless article. Where was the same "If and But" article when Van DeVelde got probably the worst break ever on the 72nd hole in The Open 14yrs ago?
12.19.2013 | Unregistered Commenterjohnnnycz

That would have been a good one as well. So what if it's pointless? Still humorous. I guess I don't see what the rucus is about.
12.19.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSari
Sari: Like I's an off-week for pro golf. Nothing happening. Just not my cup of tea...the "what if" articles are poof pieces.

What if the ball flew into the hole on the fly? What if he missed the flag yet 4-jacked from 6feet? A well written piece I'll admit, he knows how to write, but in this case he gave himself a totally blank canvas.

I prefer my golf reading to be a little more informative and fact based that's all....there's only room for one Dan Jenkins.
12.19.2013 | Unregistered Commenterjohnnnycz
...and Dan Jenkins speaks the truth.
12.19.2013 | Unregistered Commenterjohnnnycz

Fair point, to each his own. As an aside, I love Dan Jenkins (own all his golf books) but he has lost a bit off his fastball.
12.19.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSari

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